Michael Salman: Committing Crimes, or Victim of Religious Persecution?

See also: Michael Salman Wants to Build a Church in His Backyard
See also: Michael Salman Is Not in Jail for Having Bible Studies in His Home
See also: Michael Salman Might Get More Jail Time

It looks like people are still buying the religious-persecution story from pastor Michael Salman, who's currently serving jail time for not following laws again.

Lawyers for the ex-gang member and convicted felon -- who's currently serving a 60-day jail sentence after being found guilty of 67 misdemeanors -- recently revealed Salman's facing even more jail time, since he just couldn't comply with the terms of his probation.

Salman's been passing off a story on the public about being sentenced to jail for hosting Bible studies on his home, which the City of Phoenix heavily denies.

This started when Salman told the City of Phoenix twice that he wasn't building a church in his backyard, then went ahead and built a church in his backyard.

Salman was found responsible for 96 civil code violations in the building of his church, most of them related to how much of a fire hazard the building was.

Salman and his supporters continue to tell a tale about how he's being persecuted for his religion -- so much so that the city has actually put out a fact sheet explaining Salman's disregard for city ordinances, his decision to ignore the repeated warnings from the city, and how this whole mess has absolutely nothing to do with Salman's religion.

Salman told the city in 2007 that he was building a garage in his backyard. He did not build a garage in his backyard.

"Mr. Salman had regular gatherings of up to 80 people," the city says. "He held services twice a week and collected a tithe at the services. The building that he held services in had a dais and chairs were aligned in a pew formation.  He held himself out as a being a church through the media (Harvest Christian Church) and claimed a church status for tax exemption purposes on his property."

Then Salman got a permit to have a "game room" in his backyard -- one that said "[a]ny other occupancy or use (business, commercial, assembly, church, etc.) is expressly prohibited."

Whether he actually planned to get an air hockey table or something doesn't really matter, since he never did, and continued to use the death-trap building as a church.

As for Salman's other incidents with police -- including serving nearly six years in prison for a drive-by shooting, getting caught with LSD while in the slammer, and once being booked into jail for impersonating a police officer -- he doesn't chalk those up to religious persecution.

For Salman's newer convictions, related to the backyard church, he maintains he's the victim.

Are you buyin' that?

Cast your vote below:

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley